The number of Lasting Powers of Attorney registrations is increasing. According to the Office of the Public Guardian, there are now over 1.2 million registered Lasting Powers of Attorney.
There were 358,683 applications to for Lasting Power of Attorney registrations in 2014, compared to 273,591 applications in 2013.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to give another person or persons (known as the “attorneys”) authority to make decisions on your behalf.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Lasting Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions: this allows attorneys to make decisions on your behalf about your property and financial affairs, for example paying bills, selling your property, and administering your bank account; and
- Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care Decisions: this allows for decisions to be made on your behalf in relation to medical treatment, care, medication, where you live, and even life sustaining treatment.
Despite the increasing popularity of Lasting Powers of Attorney, a recent report by the Telegraph Money has highlighted that the number of complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service relating to Powers of Attorney and financial institutions has more than doubled in the last five years.
New complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about this issue rose from 71 in 2010 to 178 in 2015. Similarly, the number of complaints which were upheld by the Financial Ombudsman Service also more than doubled.
Common problems include banks refusing to accept the Power of Attorney, not understanding the powers given by the documents, not recording the details of the Power of Attorney correctly and losing original documents.
It is likely that someone who is looking to use a registered Power of Attorney to assist another person with their finances is already under a great deal of stress and this may be a very difficult time for them.
In order to the situation less stressful, I recommend that when trying to provide the details of the Power of Attorney to financial institutions, the attorneys consider doing the following:
- Book an appointment and ask the institution to confirm what documents you need to bring with you;
- Don’t hand over original copies of your documents;
- If you have any problems call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300. They may be able to explain to your bank what they should be doing or give you advice in relation to using the Power of Attorney; and
- If you cannot resolve the issue, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
If you would like more information about Lasting Powers of Attorney then please contact me on 0113 336 3400 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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